Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported today that the Red Sox considered trading Jonathan Papelbon to the Athletics or White Sox.
Oakland decided instead to sign Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour. The White Sox elected to give Jesse Crain a deal. Papelbon's big arbitration number — which proved to be $12 million — likely scared some teams off. Papelbon's rocky 2010 probably didn't help matters, either.
Had Papelbon been dealt, Heyman reports that the Sox would have made a play for Rafael Soriano.
At the moment, the Sox have an abundance of bullpen arms. What looks like a surplus in January often isn't the case once the games start. But let's say that Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard look good and the Sox get production from Dan Wheeler, a lefty or two and a guy like Scott Atchsion. Might they try and trade Papelbon around the deadline?
Papelbon will be a free agent after the season. Given his 2011 salary, the guess here is the Sox would not offer arbitration out of fear he would accept. Trading him before he walks could make sense.
The question then becomes what his trade value would be. For now, Papelbon is the closer and all is well. But keep an eye on this.